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Now although we have shown ourselves to be of such character and have given so convincing proof that we do not covet the possessions of others, we are brazenly denounced by those who had a hand in the decarchiesIn Athens and in other states under ther influence there was in the oligarchical party a group of Spartan sympathizers who out-Spartaned the Spartans. After the downfall of Athens at the close of the Peloponnesian war, when Sparta became the supreme power in Greece, 404 B.C., governing commissions of ten （“decarchies”） composed of these extremists, with a Spartan harmost and garrison to support them, were set up in most of these states by the Spartan general Lysander （Xen. Hell. 3.4.2）. In Athens the “decarchy” succeeded the rule of the thirty tyrants. Compare what Isocrates says here about the decarchies with Isoc. 5.95 and Isoc. 12.54.—men who have befouled their own countries, who have made the crimes of the past seem insignificant, and have left the would-be
these we must avoid, but first and foremost we should be careful that we are never found doing any cowardly deed or making any unjust concessions to the foe; for it would be shameful if we, who onceSpartan supremacy lasted, theoretically, more than thirty years, from the end of the Peloponnesian War （404 B.C.） to the battle of Leuctra. Meantime, however, the Athenians secured for a short period their second naval empire （378 B.C.）. were thought worthy to rule the Hellenes, should be seen carrying out their commands, and should fall so far below our forefathers that, while they were willing to die in order that they might dictate to others,Thucydides, i. 140, puts in the mouth of Pericles the assertion that the Spartans prefer to resolve their complaints by war and not by words, dictating terms instead of bringing charges. we would not dare to hazard a battle in order that we might prevent others from dictating
Likewise the Lacedaemonians, after having set out in ancient times from obscure and humble cities, made themselves, because they lived temperately and under military discipline, masters of the Peloponnesus;See Isoc. 4.61; Isoc. 12.253 ff. whereas later, when they grew overweening and seized the empire both of the sea and of the land, they fell into the same dangers as ourselves.The Spartan supremacy began with the triumph over Athens in 404 B.C. and ended with the defeat at Leuctra, 371 B.C. See Vol I. p. 402, footnote. Cf. Isoc. 5.47. After Leuctra, Athens, in her turn, saved Sparta from destruction. See Isoc. 5.44 and note.
Moreover, if we will examine into the history of the most illustrious and the greatest of the other states, we shall find that democratic forms of government are more advantageous for them than oligarchies. For if we compare our own government—which is criticized by everyoneSee Isoc. 7.15.—not with the old democracy which I have described, but with the rule which was instituted by the Thirty,The oligarchy of the thirty “Tyrants,” instituted with the help of the Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War, 404 B.C. there is no one who would not consider our present democracy a divine cr
We are concerned about our polity no less than about the safety of the whole state and we know that our democracy flourishes and endures in times of peace and security while in times of war it has twice already been overthrown,By the oligarchical revolution of 411 B.C., when the government of the Four Hundred was established, and that of 404 B.C., when the reign of the Thirty began. but we are hostile to those who desire peace as if suspecting them of favoring oligarchy,For example, Timotheus, who was no flatterer. See Isoc. 15.131 ff. Cf. Isoc. 15.318. while we are friendly to those who advocate war as if assured of their devotion to democracy.
Now that it is not just I can show you by lessons which I have learned from yourselves. For when the Lacedaemonians held this power,After 404 B.C. what eloquence did we not expend in denouncing their rule, contending that it was just for the Hellenes to enjoy independence?
for in place of holding the citadels of other states, her people saw the day when the enemy was in possession of the AcropolisA Spartan garrison occupied the Acropolis during the rule of the Thirty.; in place of dragging children from their mothers and fathers and taking them as hostages,This the Athenians did at Samos in 440 B.C. See Thuc. 1.115. many of her citizens, living in a state of siege, were compelled to educate and support their children with less than was their due; and in place of farming the lands of other states,The reference is to the cleruchies. See 6, note. for many yearsFrom 413 to 404 B.C. they were denied the opportunity of even setting eyes upon their own fields.
but that our democracy itself under the leadership of the former remained unshaken and unchanged for many years,A century, from the reforms of Cleisthenes in 510 to the revolution of 411 B.C. whereas under the guidance of these men it has already, within a short period of time,In 411 and 404 B.C. been twice overthrown, and that, furthermore, our people who were driven into exile under the despots and in the time of the Thirty were restored to the state, not through the efforts of the sycophants,False accusers, slanderers, professional blackmailers—a class of persons which sprang up like weeds in Athens after the age of Pericles. Their favorite device was to extort money by threatening or instituting law-suits. But the word was applied indiscriminately by Isocrates and others to demagogues and politicians of the opposite party. See Lafberg, Sycophancy in Athens. Cf. Aristoph. Pl. 850 ff. The term “flatterers” is used in 4. but through those leaders who despised men of that character<
And this could be proved by numerous instances; but as for those which have occurred in our own time at any rate, who does not know that the Lacedaemonians shattered your power,At Aegospotami, 405 B.C. which was thought to be irresistible—although at first they possessed slight resources for the war waged at sea, but they won the Greeks over to their side because of that general belief—and that you in turn took the leadership away from them, although you depended on a city without walls and in evil plight,A reference to the beginning of the Corinthian War, 395 B.C. Athens had been compelled by Sparta to destroy her Long Walls and fortifications after her defeat in 404 B.C. but possessed Justice as your al